(L to R) VINP Education Specialist Laurel Brannick, Emily Wild and VINP Archaeologist Ken Wild.
A total of 500 local high school students will now get to visit Hassel Island and its many historic landmarks, thanks to an $8,000 grant to the Virgin Islands National Park from the non-profit National Parks Foundation.
The $8000 Ticket to Ride grant from the National Park Foundation, which was received by Friends of VINP on behalf of V.I. National Park, will provide funds for water transportation to the island, which has been largely inaccessible to visitors, as the only access is by sea.
The grant provides transport for the territory’s eighth and ninth graders to Hassel Island where they will be guided on the newly opened Active Trails.
Hassel Island is a treasure-trove of maritime and local history unfamiliar to many Virgin Island students, due to its inaccessibility from land. Now with funds for maritime transportation and the Active Trails open, these students will be able to explore the 13 historic sites connected by the trail.
All eighth and ninth grade teachers in the territory that are interested in bringing their students should contact Laurel Brannick at the VINP by calling 776-6201 ext. 257.
As an important partner, Friends of Virgin Islands National Park will raise an additional $8000 to match the NPF’s contribution through their SKIP (School Kids in the Park) Program. Another partner, St. Thomas Historic Trust, will also support the program by supplying brochures and trained tour guides for the student trips.
Friends of Virgin Islands National Park officials are enthusiastic about the program.
“We’re proud that this partnership will create a new opportunity for Virgin Islands youth to experience and learn from Hassel Island’s rich cultural and natural resources,” said Joe Kessler, president. “This unique island within the park was previously under utilized, but is now open to discovery for future generations.”
The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, created the Ticket To Ride program. The $230,000 grant connects 30,000 students with national parks across the country.
“Providing the means for America’s youth to experience all that our national park system has to offer is imperative,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “The Ticket to Ride program makes it possible for us to engage the younger generation through the parks’ unique natural, cultural and historical classrooms, ultimately fostering an early love and appreciation for these important places.”